February 10, 2005 § Leave a comment

It's been a really long day. Waking up so early every morning is doing nothing for my cold, so I am completely exhausted. After Mass (Msgr. Rossi – I love him! He's on of those "grumpy-looking-with-a-heart-of-gold" types), I spent two and half hours in the computer lab working on my Philosophy paper about the problem of Moral Luck. Just in case you don't know what that is:

Where a significant aspect of what someone does depends on factors beyond his control, yet we continue to treat him in that respect as an object of moral judgment, it can be called moral luck. Such luck can be good or bad. And the problem posed by this phenomenon, which led Kant to deny its possibility, is that the broad range of external influences here identified seems on close examination to undermine moral assessment as surely as does the narrower range of familiar excusing conditions. If the condition of control is consistently applied, it threatens to erode most of the moral assessments we find it natural to make. The things for which people are morally judged are determined in more ways than we at first realize by what is beyond their control. And when the seemingly natural requirement of fault or responsiblity is applied in light of these facts, it leaves few pre-reflective moral judgments intact. Ultimately, nothing or almost nothing about what a person does seems to be under his control.
(Thomas Nagel, "Moral Luck," in Mortal Questions, 26)

This is obviously ridiculous. People are indeed wholly responsible for their actions and furthermore their character, for character is the "deposit of action." As Aristotle will point out, it is through our actions that we become virtuous – by doing just actions that we are just, by doing temperate actions that we are temperate. Finally, since actions are rational and voluntary (even when influenced by the passions – we have the responsibility to temper these as well) our character is what we make it. There are no excuses.

Anyway, back to my tiring day. Social Science class was okay; we talked about types of identity and the contemporary phenomenon of "imaginary" identity. That is, how a man from India can live and work in America, and still believe himself to be an Indian because he can follow the news over the internet, satellite tv, radio, and newspapers. Technology makes imaginary identities more common than they were fifty years ago – they were unheard of.

Dr. Misztal thanked me for the piece of cake I brought him a few weeks ago and asked me when I was going to bring him some more. Hmmmm…I don't know. I told him that I would sometime later in the semester; I just don't want the other students to get the wrong idea from my friendly gestures. Anyway, Dr. Misztal is planning a party for midterms and wants me to bring a dessert. How do I become the baker?

Until lunchtime, I hung around the Shrine for a while, praying and simply feeling quiet. It was a really peaceful time for me. The wind was blowing really hard outside the walls, and it somehow made the thick stone walls of the Shrine seem protective, like a haven from the break-neck speed of life outside. I really needed that time out with Jesus badly.

Kevin and I had lunch, and then went to the Shrine for a while. Finally I got to actually meet Fr. Fisher. Soon afterwards I went home. Now I have a lot of homework to do, and I should stop procrastinating.

Last night Mommy surprised me with a late Christmas present – the book Person and Polis by Dr. Schneck. Now I have to get it autographed!

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